Prior to this year my daughter Robin, 14, attended conventional school for one year when she 10 (grade 5). Subsequent and prior to that year, which she didn’t consider very valuable, she fit the bill as a ‘free-range’ homelearner. Her learning world during this time reflected back to her her keenest interests and she excelled in literacy (reading and writing, especially), music, mastering various textile-oriented skills, imaginative play, and LOTS of other things that we participated in as a learning family, or that emerged as an opportunity.
This past year Robin wished to enlarge her social sphere (there are few homelearning kids her age where we live) and access some other things she hadn’t been exposed to, at a local school. So with the support of my wife and I, Robin enrolled in, and has attended the local secondary school for grade 9.
With her school year winding down, I think it’s a good time to muse on the fruits of her decision, and here’s how I would characterize it:
– Robin has indeed enlarged her social pool to her satisfaction and especially enjoyed amenities available through her band, woodshop, textiles, cooking and PE classes.
– She has excelled in every class, including all core subjects (in math, I expected she would require some remediation or tutoring considering she had only been exposed to formal math when she completed grade 5, but she didn’t need a minute of tutoring en route to top grades).
– The curriculum for her core subjects remains just as banal, obtuse, questionable and disconnected from the real world in which we live as when I experienced my forced march through high school.
– Her core subject teachers, for the most part, seem stuck in a rut delivering questionable curricula, and stuck in a time warp sending home excessive, marginally-valuable homework and crafting lesson plans devoid of any sense of multiple intelligences or holistic learning.